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Guilty verdict for Vancouver man who said he was too drunk to remember rioting

Spencer Kirkwood leaves Vancouver provincial court with his mother on Jan. 11, 2012, after a hearing regarding charges against him stemming from the Stanley Cup riot.

Jeff Vinnick/The Globe and Mail

The first person to go on trial for participating in the 2011 Stanley Cup riot was found guilty on three charges Thursday afternoon.

The riot, which took place in Vancouver on June 15, 2011, was a black mark for the city and eventually led to charges against more than 100 people.

Spencer Kirkwood was found guilty of participating in a riot, mischief and breach of bail.

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Mr. Kirkwood, who said in his defence that he was too drunk to remember rioting, pleaded not guilty to the charges in February and, by doing so, became the first person to go to trial. According to a Crown counsel spokesperson, 138 people accused in the riot have already pleaded guilty to their roles in the mayhem.

Provincial Court Judge Conni Bagnall said Mr. Kirkwood's intentions were clear and he was not too drunk to understand he was doing something wrong.

Mr. Kirkwood will be sentenced on April 9.

Perhaps the most damaging evidence against the 26-year-old presented in court was a video that shows Mr. Kirkwood pumping his arms outside a telecommunications store on the night of the riot. As the crowd hollers their approval, he heaves a long wooden barricade through glass that had only moments earlier been shattered by another man, who kicked it in first.

The court heard that two days after the riot, Mr. Kirkwood reported himself to police when he saw footage of the video.

But the saga of the riot, that has now stretched on for almost two years, isn't quite over yet. The Crown counsel spokesperson said another 12 individuals accused in the riot have "set their matters to trial," though specific dates for them were not given.

The riot took place after the Vancouver Canucks lost to the Boston Bruins in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals. Hundreds of people took to the streets with hammers, fire accelerants and balaclavas in a rampage of destruction, arson and assault. Tens of thousands of innocent people were trapped, trying to flee the escalating violence.

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Vancouver police held off responding for several crucial minutes, enough time for a handful of trouble-makers to become a mob. The police said the delay was to avoid injury to innocent bystanders.

The riot left millions of dollars in damages and led to a massive investigation. Vancouver police were forced to defend themselves on multiple occasions as criticisms were made that the investigation was slow to lay charges.

Many commentators across the country called the riot a national embarrassment.

With reports from The Canadian Press

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About the Author
News reporter

Daniel Bitonti is a Vancouver-based reporter with The Globe and Mail. Before joining the bureau, Daniel spent six months on the copy desk in the Globe’s Toronto newsroom after completing a journalism degree at Carleton University. More

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